Black Gum

All About the Black Gum:

Scientific Nomenclature: Nyssa sylvatica

Common Names: black gum, black tupelo, tupelo, sour gum

Mature Height: 30–50 feet

Mature Spread: 20–30 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Attracts Wildlife: Birds, pollinators, mammals

Messiness: Fruits mature on female trees only and drop in late summer or early autumn. Flowers bloom in the spring and drop soon after. Flowers are highly sought after by bees and many will be on the tree during bloom. Leaves drop in autumn. 

Shape: Columnar/Round

Native to Kentucky: Yes

Preferred Soils: Prefers moist, acidic (<6.0pH) clay, loam or sandy soils with good drainage. Black gums are highly adaptable and tolerate poorly drained soils, standing water, and even some drought and dry soils.

Screening: Is not used as a screening or privacy tree.

Drought Tolerance: Is tolerant of drought and some dry soils, especially once well established.

Coniferous or Deciduous: Deciduous

Pruning: Pruning is not required; any deadwood can be removed while the tree is dormant to ensure it remains healthy.

Climate Quick Facts:

Following being planted as a sapling, over 20 years one black gum will:

  • Sequester ~781 pounds of CO2.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff by 373 gallons.